I don’t know about you, but I want to make posting to my weblog as simple of a process as possible. I just want to type in my rant for the day, make sure everything is spelled correctly and slap it up on the web. If I’m not done with what I’m typing, then I need to save it for later when I have more time to finish it. Pretty basic right? If you run a weblog I bet you’re in the same boat as I am. Granted, the interface provided by MoveableType is easy to use and may be all that you need to post to your weblog, however there is the world of the “desktop client” that can make posting to your weblog faster, easier and in some cases downright fun.
What Is A “Desktop Client”
Simply put, a MovableType Client, or “desktop client” is a piece of software that you install on your local computer. Once configured, you have a desktop application that allows you to post to Movable Type, instead of posting directly from MT. The great thing is that you can always go back to your normal way of posting via your web browser. The desktop client simply gives you an alternative method of posting your entry.
So Why Use It?
MoveableType has a very easy, straightforward method of posting to your weblog through its web interface and version 3.0 of the software has made it even better, so why do you even need a desktop client. Technically, you don’t need a desktop client. Everything you need to manage your weblog can be done via your web browser, but there are some nice features that desktop clients bring to the table that are worth considering.
» Spell check- This is the biggest motive for using a desktop client. I don’t know about you, but my spelling is horrible and without spell check, my entries would be littered with mis-spelled words. Most desktop clients have built-in spell check and thus help you proof your work before you publish it.
» File & Image Upload Tools – A quick and easy way to upload images to your weblog. Some even include thumbnail support, meaning that you can create thumbnails of images you’re uploading automatically.
» HTML Templates – If you use certain bits of HTML, or would like to, many clients have templates that allow you to quickly insert your “bits” anywhere in your entry you need them. Some even give you the power to completely alter the look and feel of an entire entry through page templates.
» Multiple Weblog Support – Often times, people use more than one weblog within their site. For example, you might create a weblog for “Links” and then integrate that into your web site. To the end user it may appear that it’s all one weblog, but behind the scenes, you know better. In the case of this weblog, I currently use 5 different weblogs to manage all my content. With many desktop clients, you can easily switch between different weblogs, even if they are are different servers!
» A True Preview – When posting directly using MT, you really can’t see how your entry will look until after it’s posted. With many desktop clients, you can customize the preview so that it looks almost exactly as it will appear on your web site. Now you can see how things will look BEFORE you post!
» Save Locally – Although I’ve never lost an entry via MT, it never hurts to have a local copy just in case. Also having a file locally gives you full control of it for future use.
» Other Fun Things – With some weblogs you can do fun stuff too, like include what song you’re currently listening to at the time of posting!
As you can see there’s a lot that a desktop client can do. If any of those items looked like something that you might be interested in, then perhaps trying a desktop client is for you. The beauty of using a local client is that it doesn’t adversely affect your weblog. You can even use multiple desktop clients on the same machine if you want to!
Where Do You Find Them?
Glad you asked. 😉 I maintain two listings of all known weblog clients. One is at the MT Wiki at this link and the other can be found in the MoveableType Forums at this link. At either of those links you can find a list of clients for your particular OS, including handhelds and mobile phones.
That’s right! You can use your Palm OS or Pocket PC handheld to post to your weblog and in some cases you can even use your mobile phone! So you see it’s more than just your desktop where a local client can come in handy.
What Client Is Best?
Well, that really depends on your weblog, your style of posting and where you want to post from. For example, if you use all the fields in MT, such as “Excerpt” and “Extended Entry” then you’ll need a weblog with full MT support, but if you just use the main “Entry” field, then just about any weblog client will work.
To go into further detail will require, well, a lot more detail, so I’ll save that for another entry. In the meantime, I did a couple of reviews last year on Windows Clients, Palm OS Clients and Linux Clients. Those articles should give you a good feel for what’s out there. If all goes well, I’ll update those articles in a few days.
In the meantime, the best way to find what works best for you, is just to PLAY! Install one, or install them all and give them a test drive. These applications are typically small, easy to install and remove, so giving them a whirl shouldn’t comprise your system. Kick the tires, take it around the block and then decide which one works best for you.
What Do You Use?
For this weblog, I mostly use Zempt, however I did like ecto before the demo ran out. It was a little early in the development of the software to decide if I was ready to purchase it, but I have to say it’s a really nice client.
For my Director’s Log at npug.org, I use Slug. That weblog is A LOT simpler, without images and very few links, so I find that Slug is perfect for that weblog. It lives in the tool tray and I can post something in the blink of an eye. It’s ultra simple, but it fits perfectly with that weblog.
Hopefully this entry has given you a broad overview of what desktop clients are and how they can be used. If you haven’t tried one yet, perhaps now you’ll give one a try and see if it doesn’t make posting to your weblog easier.
For those of you currently using a desktop client, I’d LOVE to hear what you’re using. Please post a reply to this entry and share what client you like the best and, if you feel so inclined, please say why you like it. 🙂
All-in-all desktop clients expand on what you’re already doing with your weblog, or extend your posting experience to more mobile platforms. Regardless of what software you choose to use, it’s always good to know that you can fall back on the basic MT web browser interface, should you need to.